I’ve discovered the original Dragonball Evolution script that Ben Ramsey wrote before his movie was changed by the director. Want to read it?
Dragonball Evolution was a terrible movie, and there’s no changing this fact.
But could it have been better?
It turns out, yes.
Ben Ramsey was hired by 20th Century Fox in 2004 to modify an already existing script for a ‘Dragonball Z’ movie. He wrote a script which you can now read here:
The script is simply titled ‘Dragonball Z,’ even though it isn’t Dragon Ball Z.
Ben submitted this script, was paid $500,000, and walked away.
This script was then changed by the producers and the director, James Wong, into the “flat out garbage,” to quote Ben Ramsey himself, that we saw in theaters.
But this original script is much, much better.
Mind you, it’s still terrible, but this is a film that a general audience might, kind of, enjoy.
How did I find it?
This script was leaked back in 2008, prior to the film’s release in 2009. I remember hearing about it back then, but didn’t pay much attention to it at the time.
The script has been lost to most fans, and I just re-discovered it yesterday on scribd.
So a few people might have read this before, but I’d say that 99.99% of Dragon Ball fans were unaware that this existed.
For that reason I’m making it available to everyone.
The Original Script
What makes this original script different?
*SPOILER ALERT. Don’t read this section if you want to read the script first!*
Fans often scream at Dragonball Evolution’s creators, ‘Why didn’t you do your research?! Just watch the show, read the manga, or at least look up the information online!’
From reading this original script you can see that Ben did watch the Dragon Ball anime while he was writing it.
That’s because Pilaf, Shu, Mai, the Ox King, Puar, Oolong, and Krillin are all in this script.
OH YEAH, Krillin’s in da house!!
Literally, he’s in the Kame House… for one scene.
Goku and the gang walk in and see Krillin sitting down and watching The World Martial Arts Tournament on TV while eating a bowl of popcorn. Goku smiles at him, Krillin gives him a thumbs up, they have a bro moment, and then we never see Krillin again.
But he’s in the movie!
There are a lot of moments like this, where you can tell Ben was inspired by the anime, but didn’t like what he saw enough to actually write the exact scene or character into the script while respecting Toriyama’s intent.
For example, Goku fights against a random pack of wolves, they traverse through a desert, the flying nimbus is here, the Ox King is a massive brute wielding a giant axe, Chichi is his daughter, and Goku’s kamehameha isn’t powered by how much of a boner he has for her.
But none of those things are like you expect them to be.
In this case, the Ox King “looks like a Viking crossed with a Sheik,” and he plays the role of the Sherman Priest from Aru Village.
You may recall that the Sherman Priest is the old man in episode 5 whose daughter is next in line for Oolong’s kidnapping. In the series, Goku fights off Oolong, they free the girls (who were actually happier being kidnapped), and they get a new dragon ball out of the deal.
Instead of that, Oolong is now a phantom-like wraith who sucks the essence out of the girls and turns them into desecrated corpses of rotten meat that he stores in his cave.
That cave, it turns out for no explainable reason, is a ‘long forgotten strip mall’ inside of a mine shaft which contains a dilapidated Starbucks and Krispy Kreme donut shop filled with skeletons holding their coffee mugs and donuts.
However, alongside this nonsense we get a Master Roshi who is Master Roshi. He’s an old man with a bald head, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops, who acts like a silly goof but has an incredible hidden power, can transform into his Max Power form, and uses the kamehameha to kill Oolong after he has been frozen by Bulma’s liquid nitrogen canister that Goku explodes with his power pole as Yamcha fires his shotgun into the darkness!!
Speaking of the power pole, Goku uses it for the entire movie, and he wears his orange uniform throughout the film.
So we do have some genuine canonical content in this version of the script.
That said, the script is filled with tons of cliché’s, generic ‘cool’ action scenes, many pointless scenes, weird flashbacks, dream sequences, arbitrary changes from the original, and yes, Goku is still in high school, is 18 years old, is an awkward super dork, and chases after girls. Plus, he’s the ‘chosen one.’
In contrast, Yamcha is super cool! I mean he’s so damn cool he can’t even believe how cool he is, and he flaunts it at every moment in front of Bulma, who he repeatedly calls “Cupcake” and tries to have sex with.
So on the one hand he’s not Yamcha at all, but on the other hand, he’s a real bandit who does bandit-like things, such as grifting a bunch of other ‘scumbags’ by stealing their ship so they can make it to ‘Turtle Island.’
This of course is a big island covered in mysterious mist, instead of a small island that is out in the open.
Then for no reason whatsoever, Suno, the young girl from Jingle Village, near Muscle Tower, is in the movie. But instead of being the actual Suno, she’s a gypsy girl who gets killed by Mai, a shapeshifter, who turns into the girl to trick the gang and enact her evil plan, which she repeatedly reveals to the audience by smiling ‘evily’ at the camera.
Her evil plan conveniently works out exactly as she had hoped it would, and in the final big twist of the film, we discover Pilaf is actually PICCOLO!
That’s right, Pilaf, who in this movie is an evil albino with pink eyes, is Piccolo in disguise. He uses the dragon balls to wish himself back into Piccolo, who is now a 2,000-year-old god (yet also a demon king), with ‘fire’ for eyeballs.
Then he fights Goku, the ‘chosen one,’ who had just turned into ‘the evil Ozaru of prophecy’ by the light of the eclipsed full moon after being told that he is in fact ‘Kakarot,’ a Saiyan Warrior, who, ‘like the Namek-jin,’ are ruthless murderers who destroy planets for fun.
Fortunately, Goku flashbacks to the memories of his ridiculously vague training with Son Gohan from the first scene in the movie, masters ‘the darkness in order to become the light,’ and fires his ultimate kamehameha at Piccolo, which it turns out is Piccolo’s own attack transmogrified into the ‘power of goodness’ and fired back at him.
Hurray! Goku wins, gets the girl, jumps onto the flying nimbus, and does a fist pump as he flies into the air!
It’s all rather absurd, but where this script shines is in the moments when Ben stays true to Toriyama’s original work. They’re few and far between, and they’re covered up and twisted into almost non-recognition, but Dragon Ball fans will still recognize the connections. In those moments you say, ‘Woah, that was kind of, almost, pretty good!’
If only there were more of those moments.
Unfortunately, the producers took all of those moments out of the script.
There’s a lot more I can say about this script, but the main point I want to make is that I wish we received this movie instead of what we did.
It’s still far worse than what Dragon Ball deserves, but at least it’s better.
And now we have proof that Ben Ramsey isn’t entirely at fault for how the movie turned out. He wasn’t a fan of the series and I won’t defend this script, but at least he tried.
So tell me what you think of the original script.
Would you have preferred this version, or would it have been just as painful to watch?
Update May 10: Ben Ramsey replies to the fans.